Build Resilience through Family Skills Training


Evidence-based family skills training is one of the most effective ways to prevent substance use among children and adolescents. These programs support caregivers to be better parents and help children develop the skills to make healthy decisions, leading to improved communication and interpersonal relationships. Family units come together at the end of each session to practice new skills together. These cost-effective programs have multiple positive outcomes for children and adolescents. Including decreased alcohol and drug use, decreased child depression and aggression, decreased family conflict, increased child attachment to school and academic performance, and increased child social competence and pro-social behavior.

Family United is a universal family skills program intended for low- and middle-income countries. During implementation, UNODC found that caregiving in stressful settings raises particular concerns that need to be addressed. This resulted in the creation of Strong Families, which is a selective family skills program to improve parenting, family resilience, and child well-being and mental health.


Family skills programs are effective in preventing a wide range of social and health problems, including preventing substance use, violence against children and youth violence, and crime. Family skills programs have proven to be gender-sensitive (affecting boys and girls equally) interventions that provide positive effects on the mental wellbeing of parents and reduce parental and occupational stress. Additionally, they support the development of children resulting in fewer behavioral and emotional problems. UNODC has been actively promoting and piloting such evidence-based programs globally since 2010.

UNODC family skills resources website. 

Strong Families (selective prevention program)

Family United (universal prevention program)

Accomplishments to Date
Project Activities
  1. In-country adaptation of Strong Families or Family UNited manual and training resources to the local cultural needs, including translations and context specific content.
  2. Selection of in-country organizations to partner with for implementation.
  3. Selection of facilitators for training
  4. In-country or online facilitator training (3 days face to face or 4 sessions over 2 weeks online)
  5. International trainers supervise locally trained facilitators during implementation of family skills interventions (3 weeks for Strong Families, 4 weeks for Family UNited)
  6. Conduct impact evaluation including quantitative and qualitive tools. 
  7. Conduct Training of Trainers for select facilitators to become in-country Master Trainers (3 days face to face, or 2 days online)
  8. Publication of research and evaluation
Global Level Outcomes
  • Family UNited and Strong Families are evidence-based initiatives support the UN Sustainable Development goals to support the safe and healthy development of children.
  • Implementation in 40 countries has resulted in evidence based and evaluated tools related to child behavior, mental health, demographic information, family functioning, trauma experiences and resilience.
National Level Outcomes
  • Implementation has resulted in a reduction in problem behavior among children and an increase in mental health and family functioning from participating families.
  • Family skills trainings are low-cost and resource-light interventions to address the world drug problem that can be readily implemented and easily scaled up.

UNODC, Wadih Maalouf, Drug Prevention Programme Coordinator, wadih [dot] maalouf [at] un [dot] org (wadih[dot]maalouf[at]un[dot]org)

UNODC, Dr. Aala El-Khani, Consultant, aala [dot] el-khani [at] un [dot] org (aala[dot]el-khani[at]un[dot]org)

Current State Participants
Bosnia & Herzegovina
Burkina Faso
Côte d’Ivoire
Dominican Republic
Myanmar (Burma)
Sri Lanka